Sound of the Mind
The distinct sound of Piece of Mind is in no small part thanks to producer Martin “Black Night” Birch, who began working with the band on the Killers record. While Number of the Beast had a very doomy, dark feel to it (like it was recorded in a catacomb), Piece of Mind was very crisp and open.
“Martin has always added his expertise in the studio and his great ability at recording our sounds,” noted Harris. “We’ve only just come to this point in our drum and guitar sounds, which are exceptional now – it’s just a team growing up together.”
The album came together very quickly, with Harris noting “Where Eagles Dare” was recorded in two takes.
“Revelations” was a Dickinson song, that Harris feels comes off much better live than on the album. Same with “Flight of Icarus”, which was the first single off the album (it hit No.12 on the Billboard Rock Chart). Harris prefers it better live because it’s faster, and if he had his druthers, the band would have put more pace into it on the record, but Dickinson argued for a slower, more plodding beat.
Backwards Message on Piece of Mind
The backwards recording before “Still Life” was Maiden getting back at all the religious freaks who came down on the because of Number of the Beast. The recording is actually a drunken McBrain doing an impersonation of Idi Amin (leader of Uganda in the 1970s), so the accent is very thick. Played forwards its says: “What ho, said da t’ing wid da t’ree bonce. Don’t meddle wit t’ings you don’t understand.”
McBrain said the band had enough of being labelled as Satanic: “We were sick and tired of being labelled as Devil worshippers and all this bollocks by these fucking morons in the States, so we thought, ‘Right, you want to take the piss? We’ll show you how to take the bleeding piss, my son!’ And one of the boys taped me in the middle of this Idi Amin routine I used to do when I’d had a few drinks. I remember it distinctly ended with the words, ‘Don’t meddle wid t’ings yo don’t understand.’ We thought, if people were going to be stupid about this sort of thing, we might as well give them something to be really stupid about, you know?”
Another cool song on the album and very underrated, is “To Tame A Land”, which was based on the “Dune” novels by Frank Herbert. Interestingly, back in 1983, Harris said it’s the best song he’s ever written up to that point.
With Piece of Mind, Iron Maiden really came into their own and began a string of phenomenal records that carried on until 1990, when Adrian Smith left the band while in pre-production for “No Prayer for the Dying”.
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